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S. Sudan president terminates party membership of three top officials

February 11, 2014 (JUBA) - South Sudanese president Salva Kiir Mayardit, who doubles as the chairman of the governing Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), has terminated the party membership of three senior officials accused of plotting to overthrow the government.

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Former vice-president turned rebel leader Riek Machar, along with two other senior political figures, are to be stripped of their membership to South Sudan’s ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (Photo: Getty Images)

According to a statement broadcast on state-owned South Sudan Television (SSTV) on Monday, Kiir said he had terminated the membership of former vice-president Riek Machar, former Unity state governor Taban Deng Gai and former environment minister Alfred Lado Gore.

All three were senior members of the SPLM leadership council, including the political bureau and the national liberation council. Kiir quoted article 10 (b) and (e) of the 2008 constitution as the basis for his decision. Under the articles, a member can be stripped of party membership if expelled for violation of the constitution, rules and regulations, or decided to join any other political party.

However, the articles do not state how such provisions would be enforced or by who in the event the constitution is deemed to have been violated.

Kiir indicated last month that the men would face trial on charges of treason over their role in an alleged coup plot in mid-December.

The ensuing violence pitted forces loyal to Kiir against pro-Machar rebel fighters, bringing the country to the brink of civil war.

The conflict followed spiralling internal tensions over Kiir’s leadership style, culminating in his decision to sack his entire cabinet last July.

South Sudan’s justice ministry has laid treason charges against seven of 11 political prisoners who were detained in connection to their role in the alleged coup plot.

Seven have since been released and are now on bail in Kenya, while another four remain in custody.

Machar, Gai and Gore all remain at large.